Engineering Education Scheme at ISIS
28 Apr 2020



Ross Turnley and James Loughlin from the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source Design Division mentored a group from The Willink School in Reading from September 2019 to April 2020 as part of the Engineering Education Scheme.




The Engineering Education Scheme (EES) is a six-month programme during which a group of six A-level students work on a real-life STE(A)M project with a local company. The students from Willink School were given a design brief for a lifting device which could be used to lift radioactive waste baskets remotely out of a highly radioactive area. No electrical equipment could be used in the design which needed to be able to pick up and put down many waste baskets throughout its lifecycle. ​

After being informed of the deadlines and workshop date when they would manufacture their design using University of Bath facilities, the students quickly came up with a plan. The students met with their mentors once every fortnight to discuss their designs and receive guidance until a final design was agreed upon. 

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Photographs: Above, Willink students and ISIS mentors James and Ross at the University of Bath workshop. Below right: a Willink student load testing the device using weights available at home during the lockdown. 

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The next step was to refine their design by modelling it in CAD using Fusion 360, which allowed them to create technical drawings. Dividing the work between themselves, and using help provided by lab technicians where required, they manufactured their design with plenty of time to spare. Using this spare time, they made improvements to their project and created a basket from left-over material which would have been used in their final demonstration.

After manufacturing their design, the students completed a report which explained in detail how their product worked, how they tested it, how they designed it, and it also included what they thought about the whole scheme.

“​Taking part in the EES has been a great experience. It was a hands on view of solving a real life problem from understanding the initial problem through to having a working prototype. I learnt that failure isn't always a negative, it is how you respond that matters." Jonathan Jones, a student from Willink School.

Over the six-month project, the students from the Willink gained a lot of soft skills, learnt some important techniques in engineering design, and gained insight into different careers available to them. On completion of the project they will receive an Industrial Cadets Gold Award. 

Mr Phil Downing, a teacher at Willink School commented; “What an incredible opportunity these students have had working so closely with STFC! This project has been an excellent example of how education should work with students getting an insight into careers through the setting of real life problems to solve. The support from STFC has been outstanding with them visiting on a regular basis up until lockdown, working closely with the students during the two day session at Bath University and several industry visits, and the support has not stopped even after lockdown. On behalf of the Willink we could not speak more highly of the team from STFC and the opportunities afforded by the EES programme."​

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Above: the team during their visit to ISIS.​

Contact: Turnley, Ross (STFC,RAL,ISIS)